Liz’s September Vlog 2017


Hi, my name is Liz Hill, President of PSAD. For this month’s vlog, I want to take the opportunity to share with you what has been happening since my last vlog. We just had a very successful state conference last August 10-13, 2017. Conference attendance totaled 101 people! Some of you may remember when we used to have conferences every year. Now, we have conferences every two years and this was our first biennial conference. We celebrated our 135th anniversary since our founding and our 131st conference. Our next conference will be in Williamsport, PA in 2019. More information will be shared periodically on our upcoming conference.

At our recent conference in August, the members voted to give the board discretion to assess what should be the new lifetime membership rate. Remember, PSAD is unique in that we only have a one-time fee and then you are a member for life! In the past, the lifetime membership rate was $125.00. The board then decided to do a trial phase on a more “accessible” membership rate of $25.00. Since this trial is now over, members gave the board permission ot reassess the membership rate. So, the board, in consultation with our membership committee, decided that the new membership rate, from here on out, is $40.00. So if you are not a member, please sign up and pay a one-time fee of $40.00 and be a member of PSAD for life!

I am very proud to announce that this past Saturday, September 23, 2017, PSAD’s Young Adult Program (YAP) hosted a one-day conference for young deaf and hard of hearing adults. Thank you to Evy A. Williams and Domonic Gordine for all their hard work to make this happen. I also want to thank our presenters: Mr. Neil McDevitt, Mr. Todd Miller, Mr. Raymond Hawkins, Mr. Jordan Sanjaya, and Ms. Emily Claveau. I also want to thank the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) for allowing us to use their facilities. PSD’s support and collaboration is very much appreciated!

For some who may not know, the National Association of the Deaf recently sued and settled with a movie theatre – SouthSide Works Cinema – in Pittsburgh. As part of the agreement, the movie theatre agreed to provide open captions for any movie. Open captions means we can view the captions directly on the movie screen without hassling with any equipment – no heavy glasses and no fussing with equipment in our cup holders. All you have to do is email before 10 am that day or you can email anytime the day before. This is only for a six month trial period. So if you are in the Pittsburgh area, please see an open captioned movie! Support this initiative as it is the first and only in the nation!

PSAD will host our 9th Annual Youth Day in November in Pittsburgh, PA. PSAD is actually the founder of Youth Day and our model has been replicated across the nation. Thanks to Sharon Antal, who founded this, and the Youth Day committee for their hard work. We have students from both mainstream programs and deaf schools. It is a day that allows them to interact with each other and learn more about their deaf identity.

And finally, I want to talk a bit about this year’s hurricane season. We have seen the news about hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Jose. First, I want to point out that there is an organization called Portlight. This organization focuses on “Inclusive Disaster Strategies” which means serving people with disabilities, including deaf and hard of hearing people, during emergency/disaster preparations. They have been instrumental in Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Please consider donating to this organization at

Staying on the theme of hurricanes and emergency management, many of you might have seen the news about the “fake interpreter” in Manatee County, Florida. During Hurricane Irma, Manatee County was getting ready to provide a press briefing on emergency preparations. One of their staff happened to have a deaf brother and knows some sign. Manatee County officials pressured this person to be their “interpreter” for the press briefing instead of getting a certified interpreter. The person signed “pizza”, “bear”, “monster”, and fingerspelled odd things like “p-a-p-p-s.” He wore a bright yellow shirt making it hard for people to see his signs.

The lack of a certified interpreter in this situation put people’s lives at stake. The situation got national media attention and it is my hope that this serves as an opportunity for education – for us to stress why it is so important to have a certified interpreter. We are very fortunate that our PA Governor has used certified interpreters for emergency press briefings. The Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities has been very good with this as well. There still remains room for improvement. PSAD hopes to collaborate with the appropriate agencies on emergency management to ensure full inclusion of deaf and hard of hearing people in emergency management.

Thanks for watching. I know it was a long vlog with so much happening. Please follow us on facebook and feel free to email me at Thanks!!

Elizabeth Hill

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